Senate and House leaders said Tuesday they will cancel the Martin Luther King Jr. Day recess unless there is a sudden resolution to the 25-day partial government shutdown, which appears unlikely given a breakdown in high-level talks.
Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerManchin meeting with Biden, Schumer in Delaware Progressives' optimism for large reforms dwindles Democratic frustration with Sinema rises MORE (N.Y.), one of the principal negotiators, told reporters Tuesday that he hasn’t spoken to President TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE in nearly a week, underlining the standstill in negotiations.
“The last I spoke with him was when he walked out, threw a temper tantrum and walked out, so we haven’t heard from him since then,” Schumer told reporters after meeting with the Democratic caucus.
A group of centrist House Democrats on Tuesday rejected a White House invitation to attend talks with Republicans and Trump, seeing it as an effort to divide the party.
A Democratic congressional aide said the meeting appeared to be pulled together “haphazardly at the last minute,” with invitations to members received from the White House beginning in the late afternoon on Monday and continuing until late at night.
“The congressman is declining the invitation,” said Andrew Scibetta, a spokesman for Rep. Lou CorreaJose (Lou) Luis CorreaTop Latino group endorses Padilla for full Senate term Democrats weigh changes to drug pricing measure to win over moderates Democrats grasping at straws on immigration MORE (D-Calif.). “Congressman Correa welcomes the opportunity to talk with the president about border security, as soon as the government is reopened.”
The White House and Republicans who did attend the meeting criticized the Democrats for skipping it.
“The sheer fact that no Democrats [were] here to even talk with us shows the lack of willingness to compromise,” said Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisIllinois Democrats propose new 'maximized' congressional map GOP rep presses Capitol Police Board on outstanding security recommendations House approves John Lewis voting rights measure MORE (Ill.), one of the Republicans who went to the White House.
Democrats feel confident they have leverage on Trump, who has seen his poll numbers steadily erode as the shutdown drags on.
“Every day he’s losing. The Gallup poll today had him at a near record low of 37 percent popularity. Even some of his base is losing faith,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. “President Trump, you’re not going to win this fight with the American people. Every day it drags on, you are less popular.”
A Quinnipiac University poll published Monday showed that 56 percent of respondents blame Trump and Republicans in Congress for the shutdown, while only 36 percent blame Democrats.
Convinced that Trump is taking the brunt of the political fallout, Democrats feel little incentive to cede any ground in the standoff over the president’s demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall.
So far, most Republican lawmakers are sticking with Trump, persuading themselves the shutdown isn’t becoming a political disaster for their party. But others acknowledge the standoff is taking a toll on Trump’s political standing and want to see an end to the impasse.
“Nobody is winning. Mr. President, hear me, nobody is winning. We’re not winning, you’re not winning, Democrats aren’t winning,” said Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHouse passes bill to expand workplace protections for nursing mothers Democrats look for plan B on filibuster Senate will vote on John Lewis voting bill as soon as next week MORE (R-Alaska).
Asked if the shutdown is hurting Trump’s approval rating, Murkowski said “absolutely.”
Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDemocratic frustration with Sinema rises Senate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation Democrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks MORE (R-S.D.) said Trump has largely failed to persuade independent voters that building a border wall is worth a monthlong partial government shutdown.
“The real battlefield is for those independent voters, and I don’t think he’s probably won them over yet,” Thune said.
But he added that Trump “certainly among Republican voters, from what I’ve seen, he seems to be moving the needle there.”
For the second time in two weeks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blocked a request by Maryland Sens. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinIt's time to make access to quality kidney care accessible and equitable for all Charity game lets users bet on elections Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program MORE (D) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDozens of Democrats call for spending bill to pass 'climate test' GOP tries to take filibuster pressure off Manchin, Sinema Overnight Energy & Environment — Biden set to restore national monuments rolled back by Trump MORE (D) to take up a House package to fund shuttered departments and agencies.
McConnell has said he will not allow a vote on a funding measure unless there is a deal between Trump and Democrats. He also said the Senate would not be voting to override a Trump veto on funding legislation.
There are at least two groups of senators working on proposals that could later serve as the basis of a compromise.
One group, led by Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinAngus King: Losing climate provisions in reconciliation bill weakens Biden's hands in Glasgow Independent senator: 'Talking filibuster' or 'alternative' an option Rep. Khanna expresses frustration about Sinema MORE (D-W.Va.), includes a mix of Republicans and Democrats, including Sens. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsGlasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal Manchin threatens 'zero' spending in blowup with Sanders: reports Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals MORE (D-Del.), Cory GardnerCory GardnerColorado remap plan creates new competitive district Protecting the outdoors: Three cheers for America's best idea Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Colo.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPennsylvania Republican becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress McCain: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner had 'no goddamn business' attending father's funeral Mayorkas tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case MORE (R-S.C.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Top GOP senators want joint review of Afghan visa process Timken rolls out six-figure ad campaign, hits Fauci MORE (R-Ohio), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema Advocates frustrated by shrinking legal migration under Biden MORE (N.C.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSunday shows preview: CDC signs off on 'mix and match' vaccine boosters Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Biden seeks to quell concerns over climate proposals Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Intelligence report warns of climate threats in all countries MORE (D-Va.).
A separate group, made up entirely of Republican moderates, is also meeting to discuss options, according to Murkowski.
“Let’s just agree we’ve got to stop it,” she said.
“I’ve got to do something,” she added. “I just can’t sit and wait and hope that one day the president will wake up someday and say, ‘Oops, I changed my mind on that.’ That’s not going to happen.”
She said a broader immigration deal is “clearly in the mix,” as is a broader agreement on federal spending levels.
Some Republicans are floating the idea of combining negotiations over the border wall with talks over strict spending caps. Those new spending ceilings are set to be triggered in 2020. They argue Democrats might be willing to compromise if funding levels for social-service programs are also at stake.
“It’s worth positive discussions. It might be a good idea,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyBlack Hawk pilot shot down in Somalia jumps into Alabama Senate race Senate Democrats ditch Hyde amendment for first time in decades Senate Democrats unveil remaining spending bills, teeing up clash with Republicans MORE (R-Ala.) said. “I think we’ll have to discuss all of it, that included.”
While most Republican lawmakers are sticking with Trump for now, nerves are fraying.
Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonHerschel Walker calls off fundraiser with woman who had swastika in Twitter profile Georgia reporter says state will 'continue to be a premier battleground' Critical race theory becomes focus of midterms MORE (R-Ga.), usually one of the most gentlemanly members of the Senate, gave an angry speech on the floor Tuesday, venting his frustration with the lack of progress.
“The president is not moving. The Democrats aren’t moving. The majority leader is not moving. And we’re not doing much. And that doesn’t solve anything,” he fumed.
“The fact of the matter is we’re not doing a damned thing while the American people are suffering,” he said.
Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport, one of the nation’s busiest, has been hit especially hard by the expiration of government funding for the Transportation Security Administration. Travelers there are waiting up to 88 minutes to make it through security screening lines — and up to 55 minutes in TSA PreCheck lines.
“We’ve got a Super Bowl coming to Atlanta, Ga., in about three weeks, the biggest tourism event in the world this year. What if the largest airport in the world goes on strike?” Isakson said.
A Senate Republican aide predicted that more Republican moderates would defect from Trump’s side.
“The polling is horrible,” the aide said, warning that the political environment could turn drastically worse for Republicans if an accident or worse happens at an airport because of low staffing levels.
Jordan Fabian, Jordain Carney and Scott Wong contributed.